University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

Art History Professor Helena Szépe Wins American Historical Association Award

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Venice Illuminated book cover
Helena Szépe, associate professor of art history at USF, is the winner of the 2019 Marraro Prize for the best book in Italian history for her 2018 publication Venice Illuminated: Power and Painting in Renaissance Manuscripts.

The Marraro Prize, hosted by the American Historical Association, is one of three annual awards for the best book or article on Italy established by Howard R. Marraro (b. 1897), a historian of Italian culture.

The American Historical Association announced Szépe as the winner of the prize in a statement on its website.

“Helena Szépe ranges broadly across more than two centuries of Venetian art history and with commanding scholarly authority analyzes the vital connections between artists and their patrons in the genres of miniature and manuscript painting,” writes the American Historical Association. “Her visually stunning book is the fruit of a prodigious research undertaking that opens new and exciting ways of thinking about Venetian art and political office-holding from the 14th to the 17th centuries."

Venice Illuminated explores the manuscript paintings of the Republic of Venice as representations of state ideals, individual status, and family memory. Analysis of these small paintings within books opens up new perspectives on canonical works by such artists as Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Veronese, as well as on tomb sculptures and public memorials.

The book’s extensive original material on artistic patronage in Venice and its territories abroad encourages an expanded understanding of art in the service of the state and of Venice as empire. Venice Illuminated is published by Yale University Press.